My Morality Rumination

When I de-converted from being a lifelong believer in god, the idea of being alone with my thoughts troubled me. I’d spent all my life believing that god could hear all my thoughts, and I could talk to him about anything. Losing my faith was like losing a friend, albeit a friend who never existed.

I thought a lot about morality. If no one could hear my thoughts or know my intentions, what did that mean? If there was no punishment for my actions save what the Law would execute on me, what was my guide to right or wrong?

Since then, I’ve discussed morality with other atheists, been questioned by agnostics, and been challenged by theists. But not long after I de-converted I realised something: people over-think the source of morality far too much! Even I was over-analysing it!

I’m not saying there are no ambiguous issues, and in fact, trying to paint every moral decision in terms of black and white is often impossible, and counter-productive. However, “wrong” is a word, and as a word it has a definition. “Immoral” is also a word, and as Richard Dawkins points out, words are our slaves not masters. Humans decide what words mean, so when we talk about ‘right’, ‘wrong’, and ‘morality’, we are using words that mean something. These definitions are independent of our personal beliefs and biases, just as the word “wet” means what it means and doesn’t mean “dry” if I want it to.

It is therefore illogical when (some) religious people ask atheists what their source of morality is; a loaded question if ever there was one, that tacitly assumes that they already have a credible source: their religion.

This is silly for a few reasons, and although I don’t expect any theist to give up their beliefs, I’m sure they will come to agree with me on this:

For the purposes of morality, I’ll loosely define “wrong” as that which causes unnecessary harm or suffering to another being, including violating the rights of that being, or exploiting it. Whether that definition is too verbose or too simple, it will suffice for this discussion.

If that is what “wrong” means, then we can easily analyse any action on this basis and decide whether it is right or wrong. What things might fall under this “wrong” category? I would suggest for starters: rape, murder, theft, racism, unwarranted torture, and mistreatment of animals. Therefore, anyone committing those actions is in the wrong. I doubt anyone so far would disagree with me.

I believe that these things are wrong anywhere, at any time. As a thought experiment, imagine you’re on another planet with different laws and values. Is rape wrong here? Yes! An alien race might not have a word for “wrong” or even bother with morality, but that doesn’t make it subjective! No more than if the aliens didn’t have a word for “earth” or “sun” that would stop those things being something very real and objective. Morality is objective, and right and wrong are objective expressions, because they have real meanings in the world.

To say that wrong actions are right under certain conditions is to redefine the word, in which case you’re not talking about the word “wrong” anymore, you have invented another one. This means that, even in theory, there is a word to describe the kind of actions that the original word “wrong” was meant to imply. So, even if there wasn’t a word to describe actions, they would still be right or wrong. Again, morality is a real thing, and humans have full capacity to judge actions and decide what is ethical or not. Our guide must be what does and doesn’t cause unnecessary harm.

It is clear therefore that, to borrow from Ebonmuse: anything that increases net human happiness is good, and anything that decreases net human happiness is bad.

Now, whether god exists or not is irrelevant. This isn’t an argument for or against religion. But it is self-evident that personal faith or belief in god is not a source for morality. Rather, if god exists and is moral, god himself is bound by these objective principles. If god is not bound by them, then morality is subjective and is based on god’s whim, which means rape and murder would be “good” if god said so. The common theistic reply to this is that god would never allow rape and murder because he is necessarily good himself. But this is the same problem repackaged and moved back a level: it presupposes that god must be a certain way, or that his nature must be a certain way; but if his nature must be objectively good, then objective good exists all the same. And if god cannot go against his nature which means he cannot go against “good”, then we might just as well say that god cannot go against good, which means it exists objectively anyway.

Therefore, god and religion, whether true or not, cannot be a basis for morality. In fact, one might argue that being in the position of following the orders of another being without question could, even in theory, compromise your morality.

A final thought experiment for theists will establish the issue:

If god didn’t exist, and your religion was false, would you hurt people? Would you steal and lie and cheat? Would you rape, pillage, and kill? If not, why? And if not, then you admit that your morality isn’t really linked to your god or religion after all! In which case you’re in no better or worse position than any atheist.

Deep down, we all get our morality from the same place: our own sense of right and wrong. But because objective morality exists, most of the time everyone’s senses of right and wrong coincide. There are grey areas, but morality being a real thing itself regardless of belief, should be reassuring for all. It means that we have responsibility for our actions, and we are accountable to other beings. It also means that because we’re living feeling creatures and are surrounded by other such entities, we should feel encouraged to be nice to people and increase net happiness for all. I’m sure you agree that this is a good thing to do, whether you believe in god or not.

70 Responses to “My Morality Rumination”

  1. Darren Says:

    I tried to make a similar point on my latest post, too. Morality is innate within us, or we would not be able to recognise the morality (or otherwise) recorded in the bible and elsewhere.

  2. narziss Says:

    I would really recommend this book called “Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsch. Pantheism offers one of the most convincing ideals of morality.
    Even if you were to debunk this guy’s claim that he had a conversation with god, (something that I did when I myself was a passionate Christian), just look at the logic he gives. It is just phenomenal.

    Here is a link that explains Pantheistic ethics and moralities.

    Please don’t mind this comment. I am not trying to propagate a religion. Just giving you one perspective. In fact, pantheism is not a “religion”. It goes against all religions. It’s a philosophy that is explained very well in the book I quoted above…

  3. Bill Says:

    Morality does seem to be “innate” within most of us. There are those — sociopaths, some people with advanced narcissistic personality disorder — who seem to have little or no conscience, and no concern for the rights or suffering of others.

    This leads one to believe that compassion and similar characteristics of what I like to call the “human spirit” (as opposed to all those other spirits) may in fact be hard-wired into most of us.

    That being said, however, there seems also to be hard-wired a predisposition to look for ultimate answers that will probably mean that a majority of humans will always be sitting ducks for the easy way out of the hard questions. For those people religion provides the comfort that they need. It also provides community and structure in the lives of billions. As to morality, it provides guidelines as well — however contradictory.

    Regardless of our personal beliefs, we must allow others the right to seek comfort as they may. It would be cruelty of the highest order to remove their hopes without having something with which to replace it, and the sophisticated thought necessary to reach internal rejection of ideas inculcated since birth is not available to most.

    My point: all religion is not all bad. As an agnostic, I find the community and guidance mentioned above in Buddhism, to which I was attracted by its lack of proselytizing and its logical approach to things spiritual — not things spirit-ridden.

    Having said that, I must say that I love your blog and the way your mind works.

    Regards,
    Bill

  4. Bill Says:

    I meant to remark, as well, that I believe “morality” tends in most people’s minds to refer to how their behavior relates to a set of rules — as opposed to “ethics,” which (in my mind, at least) relates to how my behavior relates to other human beings.

  5. Dana Says:

    Morality is at least in part a social construct, because as you say we are accountable for our actions to other beings for the simple reason that we live with them. Different cultures and societies have therefore created different moralities. They usually agree on the “big points” — murder, theft, rape, dishonesty are wrong — but often get hung up on other matters which we can eventually see are “merely” cultural practices. One good example of this is head-covering for women in Islam, attitudes towards nudity in the U.S. and much of the West, the abstinence from meat on Fridays for Catholics (at least during the Middle Ages), restrictions on premarital sex and homosexuality in many cultures, the practice of ritual cannibalism in the South Pacific, and so on. The distinction Bill makes between ethics and morality is part of that hang-up. When a theist questions whether atheists can have any source of morality, the theist merely asserts that the atheist doesn’t share the theist’s morality. We forget there are moralities — plural — not just one. But ethics, to use Bill’s distinction again, seem to be universal and objective. Most religions, like the cultures they are part of, present more universal ethics and culturally-derived moralities as if they are the same thing, when they’re obviously not.

  6. evanescent Says:

    @ Bill:

    Many thanks for your comments. A lot of what you said is very well thought out and I agree with most of it.

    I agree that we must allow others to seek comfort however they choose. However, we must be cautious not to let our liberance and tolerance become so excessive that any source of comfort is deemed acceptable. Religion CAN be a dangerous guide when it comes to morality at times.

    Also, I would echo the words of Richard Dawkins, that although it’s all well and good you and I sitting here talking about how evolved our morality is, there is something condescending about saying that some people need religion because they will never know any better. Isn’t the most important thing:
    1. whether it is actually true or not.
    2. is religion necessary for morality.

    As you say, if people REALLY need religion to tell them not to abuse other people, there is something wrong with them anyway!

    Again, thanks for commenting and the kind words.

    @ Dana:

    Grey areas in morality might involve issues like abortion, or homosexuality, to use two examples.

    However, they only become moral issues when they clash with people’s personal or spiritual beliefs.

    Homosexuality is NOT, and cannot be, a matter of morality: two people enjoying each other without anyone getting hurt cannot possibly be immoral. I agree many people have a problem with it, but their objections are not truly based on morality, but on personal belief, and as the article argues: morality is not founded on personal belief, but should rather, transcend it.

    Abortion after two weeks for instance isn’t murder, but killing an unborn child at 7 months is. The difference is whether a human life is actually taken or not.

    If we use as our general guide “that which unnecessarily harms other beings or not”, it is clear that morality should be virtually universally agreeable.

    Unfortunately, sometimes people’s beliefs can affect their interpretations of morality, which again is why religion is not a basis for morality: .e.g: homosexuality would be “wrong”, when it isn’t.

    This isn’t an attack on religion, but illustrates why, as you both quite rightly observe, morality is indepedent of it.

  7. Gary Crockett Says:

    Refreshing and uncluttered ideas – nice to stumble upon. Keep it up. Go straight to my del.icio.us…

  8. PFC Says:

    Jesus said that He would never lose, not one sheep that the Father has given Him. Maybe you were never one of His sheep to begin with?

  9. evanescent Says:

    Hi PFC, I appreciate the time you gave to leave a comment, but I don’t believe in the bible or the divinity of Jesus, so your sentiment is lost on me I’m afraid. Besides, it doesn’t really address anything in the article.

  10. tobe38 Says:

    Great post!

    Religious morality is immature – a child’s plea for a set of rules. Adults think things through for themselves. It’s about time the human race came of age.

  11. D Says:

    You have a poor standing on morality, eva. This can be simply contradicted with some logic.

    If God does not exist, what is morality? Well, it is just a bunch of chemical responses in our brain, of course, and what does that mean? It means this: morality cannot exist because there is nothing there to create it. You recognize morality as a material thing; as something that isn’t just a reaction of our brain. You say that even on another planet something can be wrong or right, but are you sure that morality can be trusted? It is entirely possible for God to have created morality, but because that is out of our hands, we should not bring that into the issue. Rape isn’t right or wrong if there is no God. Do you know why? Because morality is not a material thing if God does not exist. Morality does not come from an explosion. For all we know, a negative affect could be a positive one. There is no way of knowing without God. Our thoughts themselves cannot be trusted, even, so what makes you think that our sense of morality can? No prudent atheist can believe that morality exists in itself. That atheist can believe that humans make up their own morality, but he/she cannot believe that morality is, in itself, an actual thing. If that didn’t get through your head, explain to me why morality can exist in itself without God.

    ____________________________________________

    By the way (and this is totally off subject), why do you people compliment eva’s posts all the time? They aren’t really that good, in my opinion (no offense). This is how it goes: A new post appears. The first response goes like this: “Wow! What a well written post. No one can argue with that…” etc, and the comment goes on to summarize the post in a few sentences. This makes no sense to me. After all, are you even prudent with the post? You see nothing wrong with it? There is a flaw in every post made by anyone, yet here, instead of helping eva out by giving him/her advice and/or pointing out a flaw he/she made, you simply compliment eva as if eva is a super-genius who just figured out a cure for cancer. I mean no disrespect, but this has been tearing at me since I first visited this site.

    ____________________________________________

    Have a wonderful day, my friends.
    God bless.

  12. evanescent Says:

    D said:

    You have a poor standing on morality, eva

    Apparently, not wanting to cause harm gives me a poor standing on morality, according to D.

    If God does not exist, what is morality?

    That’s like saying, “if the sky isn’t blue, what’s on TV tonight?”

    Well, it is just a bunch of chemical responses in our brain, of course, and what does that mean? It means this: morality cannot exist because there is nothing there to create it.

    You’ve just contradicted yourself. If morality is “just a bunch of chemical responses in our brain”, then there is something to create it.

    By the way, if you think there is something to human consciousness besides the brain, I recommend some elementary neuroscience.

    You recognize morality as a material thing; as something that isn’t just a reaction of our brain. You say that even on another planet something can be wrong or right, but are you sure that morality can be trusted?

    Morality arises because words have meaning; words that describe how people interact with each other. This is where morality comes from.

    It is entirely possible for God to have created morality, but because that is out of our hands, we should not bring that into the issue.

    I’m more than happy to leave “god” out of the issue.

    Rape isn’t right or wrong if there is no God. Do you know why? Because morality is not a material thing if God does not exist.

    This makes no sense, and is diabolical morality.

    Morality does not come from an explosion. For all we know, a negative affect could be a positive one.

    Do you actually listen to yourself when you speak?

    There is no way of knowing without God. Our thoughts themselves cannot be trusted, even, so what makes you think that our sense of morality can?

    Who says our thoughts cannot be trusted? I’m an adult D, which means I can reasonably trust my own morality. Most human beings can. It’s the minority who ruin it for the rest of us. These are the kind of people who don’t care about hurting others, or worse still, think hurting people is ok if “god” doesn’t exist.

    No prudent atheist can believe that morality exists in itself.

    Then you don’t know many prudent atheists. Reading Christian propaganda on the internet doesn’t count.

    That atheist can believe that humans make up their own morality, but he/she cannot believe that morality is, in itself, an actual thing. If that didn’t get through your head, explain to me why morality can exist in itself without God.

    I did: read the article.
    Just for any onlookers, let’s recap:
    D said:

    Rape isn’t right or wrong if there is no God

    So, if D didn’t believe in his “god”, he wouldn’t think anything about raping women. Now, D, don’t even try to deny this, because if you do, I win by default. Because if you realise that your “god” doesn’t exist, tell me if you’d think twice about raping if you could get away with it. If you wouldn’t, then you concede that something in you stops you, because you know it’s WRONG, whether “god” exists or not.

    And of course, if you maintain that rape isn’t right or wrong, then you’ve just proven perfectly that not only is religion irrelevant to morality, it can be detrimental to it. Thank you for showing us your true ‘morality’.

    The article above clearly explains my definition of morality and where an objective morality comes from. You haven’t even come close to addressing it.

    One more thing D: keep on believing in god. Please. There are rules in society to protect the rest of us from people like you, who need to be told what right and wrong is. So, if believing in god is the only way to stop you hurting people and raping them, keep on believing!

    D said:

    By the way (and this is totally off subject), why do you people compliment eva’s posts all the time? They aren’t really that good, in my opinion (no offense). This is how it goes: A new post appears. The first response goes like this: “Wow! What a well written post. No one can argue with that…” etc, and the comment goes on to summarize the post in a few sentences. This makes no sense to me. After all, are you even prudent with the post? You see nothing wrong with it? There is a flaw in every post made by anyone, yet here, instead of helping eva out by giving him/her advice and/or pointing out a flaw he/she made, you simply compliment eva as if eva is a super-genius who just figured out a cure for cancer. I mean no disrespect, but this has been tearing at me since I first visited this site.

    It’s good to get things off your chest, D. But what does the bible say about jealousy?

  13. D Says:

    That’s like saying, “if the sky isn’t blue, what’s on TV tonight?”

    No it isn’t, because God’s existence actually has a lot to do with morality’s existence.

    You’ve just contradicted yourself. If morality is “just a bunch of chemical responses in our brain”, then there is something to create it.

    I don’t contradict myself. You refer to morality as a material thing, not as a reaction within our body that probably can’t be trusted, as would be logical to believe if you are an atheist.

    This makes no sense, and is diabolical morality.

    According to you, there is no such thing as morality. According to you, morality cannot exist in itself, rather, it is just a human reaction to certain actions.

    Do you actually listen to yourself when you speak?

    That is the very question I have been asking you.

    Who says our thoughts cannot be trusted? I’m an adult D, which means I can reasonably trust my own morality. Most human beings can. It’s the minority who ruin it for the rest of us. These are the kind of people who don’t care about hurting others, or worse still, think hurting people is ok if “god” doesn’t exist.

    I say your thoughts can’t be trusted without God. If the earth just spins around and crumbles away, what is the meaning of living? If our thoughts are just a bunch of chemical reactions within our body that came from an explosion that came from singularity that was just there without anything to create even though it isn’t eternal, how, then, can we trust our thoughts? If we are just an accident, why then do we trust our thoughts? They may seem to be trustworthy, but without God, they are not trustworthy. Why, then, should we trust both our thoughts and our sense of morality?

    Then you don’t know many prudent atheists. Reading Christian propaganda on the internet doesn’t count

    Does reading posts from many different atheists count?

    So, if D didn’t believe in his “god”, he wouldn’t think anything about raping women. Now, D, don’t even try to deny this, because if you do, I win by default.

    I would believe it wrong, even though my thoughts tell me not to care. I’m not saying that I would commit murder or anything if God didn’t exist. I’m saying that we SHOULDN’T care. If God didn’t exist, I would simply make actions that were to my benefit. I don’t “know” if something is right or wrong given the hypothetical scenario that God doesn’t exist, I would KNOW not to trust my thoughts, but I would still have my “sense” of morality holding me back, but when does a “sense” govern reality?

    And of course, if you maintain that rape isn’t right or wrong, then you’ve just proven perfectly that not only is religion irrelevant to morality, it can be detrimental to it. Thank you for showing us your true ‘morality’.

    Atheism is very detrimental, and the assertion you made about Christians is just that. An assertion. I explained why atheism is detrimental, regardless of your thoughts, because your thoughts are just chemical reactions, and aren’t worth trusting.

    One more thing D: keep on believing in god. Please. There are rules in society to protect the rest of us from people like you, who need to be told what right and wrong is. So, if believing in god is the only way to stop you hurting people and raping them, keep on believing!

    I have firm, solid, and well-backed up beliefs concerning God, origins, and morality. No one can convince me otherwise, especially you, eva, for it would take someone intelligent to change my mind if it is even possible for someone to disprove my beliefs, and I don’t believe it is.

    It’s good to get things off your chest, D. But what does the bible say about jealousy?

    That is one of the many comments you have made that makes it extremely difficult to believe you ARE an adult. I’m simply annoyed that people would compliment a post without even taking the time to give advice and/or point out flaws, which is, by the way, helpful.

  14. evanescent Says:

    D said:

    No it isn’t, because God’s existence actually has a lot to do with morality’s existence.

    No it doesn’t, which was the whole point of the article.

    I don’t contradict myself. You refer to morality as a material thing, not as a reaction within our body that probably can’t be trusted, as would be logical to believe if you are an atheist.

    That’s a non-sequitor. No atheist believes that anyway.

    According to you, there is no such thing as morality. According to you, morality cannot exist in itself, rather, it is just a human reaction to certain actions.

    That’s not what I said at all. You obviously didn’t read the article properly, and if you did, you didn’t understand it.

    I say your thoughts can’t be trusted without God. If the earth just spins around and crumbles away, what is the meaning of living?

    That’s a very sad view of the world, D. That’s not how I see life. There are millions of things to live for! Friends, family, love, knowledge, research, discovery, science, joy, happiness, pleasure.
    If you really need a god to make your life worth living, maybe there is something lacking in your life.

    If our thoughts are just a bunch of chemical reactions within our body that came from an explosion that came from singularity that was just there without anything to create even though it isn’t eternal, how, then, can we trust our thoughts? If we are just an accident, why then do we trust our thoughts? They may seem to be trustworthy, but without God, they are not trustworthy. Why, then, should we trust both our thoughts and our sense of morality?

    This doesn’t make sense. I do not see the connection between no god and not being able to trust our thoughts. There is no logical progression from one to the other, which means this isn’t an argument, but just an assertion.

    I would believe it wrong, even though my thoughts tell me not to care.

    Well, if you would believe it to be wrong, then you DON’T need god to tell you right or wrong!

    I’m not saying that I would commit murder or anything if God didn’t exist. I’m saying that we SHOULDN’T care. If God didn’t exist, I would simply make actions that were to my benefit.

    Which is EXACTLY why you cannot be a moral person. You see, atheists make actions that benefit other people all the time, and they don’t believe in god!

    I don’t “know” if something is right or wrong given the hypothetical scenario that God doesn’t exist, I would KNOW not to trust my thoughts, but I would still have my “sense” of morality holding me back, but when does a “sense” govern reality?

    Sense doesn’t govern reality, it interprets it. What you’re proposing is dire scepticism, but I fail to see what the existence of god has to do with the possibility of knowledge.

    Atheism is very detrimental, and the assertion you made about Christians is just that. An assertion. I explained why atheism is detrimental, regardless of your thoughts, because your thoughts are just chemical reactions, and aren’t worth trusting.

    That’s not an explanation or an argument, it’s your assertion. You’ve proved nothing that demonstrates that not believing in your particular version of god is detrimental to anyone or anything. In fact, you’ve admitted that if you didn’t believe in god you wouldn’t care about anyone but yourself, so perhaps YOU need to believe in god, but those of us who care about other people don’t need to.

    I have firm, solid, and well-backed up beliefs concerning God, origins, and morality. No one can convince me otherwise, especially you, eva, for it would take someone intelligent to change my mind if it is even possible for someone to disprove my beliefs, and I don’t believe it is.

    It’s a shame that I’m not intelligent enough to disprove your beliefs, D. Unfortunately, you’ve just admitted here that you firmly believe you’re right no matter what. This is what we call irrational. No rational person ever believes they are 100% right and cannot be wrong. Rational people follow the evidence, not matter how much it is uncomforting.

    That is one of the many comments you have made that makes it extremely difficult to believe you ARE an adult. I’m simply annoyed that people would compliment a post without even taking the time to give advice and/or point out flaws, which is, by the way, helpful.

    I agree, I welcome criticism or compliments. But if someone criticises me, they better know what they’re talking about because I will call them on it. I’ve received my share of unflattering remarks on my blog, and far more complimentary comments. Your criticism is because you don’t like what I have to say, yet, when you have to explain where my fallacies and errors are, you just repeat your own beliefs without addressing my arguments. Why is that I wonder?

  15. elicivilunrest Says:

    ev,

    Thought I’d do you the courtesy of posting a comment on your blog, in addition to my own:

    D said:

    If God does not exist, what is morality? Well, it is just a bunch of chemical responses in ]our brain, of course, and what does that mean? It means this: morality cannot exist because there is nothing there to create it.

    Though I’m fairly certain from the tone D is being facetious his point here is better than he would probably prefer to admit. Maybe morality, like behavior in groups and conscious thought is emergent. More than the sum of its parts. Made up of… what… dictums wisdom common kindness to create a framework for right action. Not universalizable in a way easily understood but perhaps shaped by natural laws the way bird flight is. If there is objective morality I don’t think we’ve found it here.

  16. evanescent Says:

    Hi elicivilunrest,

    I’ve had a chance to think this over and research since yesterday. Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog and comment.

    I don’t subscribe to morality just being based on natural laws or solely a product of our evolution. I reject moral subjectivism. D’s comment has no merit to it. (Whether there is or isn’t an objective morality is irrelevant to how the brain works!)

    Although I believe we can use principles like the Golden Rule as a rule of thumb in most cases (for ease), I would subscribe to the universal utilitarianism that Ebonmuse offers, and this is unquestionably objective (although as you rightly point out this can clash with the golden rule on occasion):

    http://ebonmusings.org/atheism/carrot&stick.html

    I believe Ebon makes conclusive arguments to demonstrate that objective morality does exist, and how a moral system can be based on it.

    However, I won’t pretend that my article above is entirely sound. It is limited and does not measure up the strengths of universal utilitarianism. What it still does do however is demonstrate that if the atheist cannot be moral, neither can the theist, but if the theist can, so can the atheist (which was of course the point.)

  17. elicivilunrest Says:

    Most of the atheists I’ve met have been more moral than most of the theists I’ve met. That is my strictly unscientific qualitative study, but I think knowing that this life is the only one that matters makes us (atheists) more focused on doing right and living well in the material world. The only world we’ll ever have.

  18. Lynet Says:

    (Apologies if I am accidentally double-posting)

    Mm. Definitely some errors in your reasoning, there. The whole ‘we have a word, therefore there is some objective thing that that word refers to’ is seriously suspect. Like, I don’t even want to know what happens if you tell that to, say, a professor of linguistics.

    On the other hand, you could argue that the fact that we have a word ‘wrong’ means that the idea of ‘wrong’ exists in our heads. However, the ideas we have of what wrongness consists of do vary between people, and so surely cannot be said to be objective.

  19. evanescent Says:

    Hi Lynet,

    allow me to clarify: I don’t for a second imply that having a word for something constitutes the existence of that something. We have a word for god but that doesn’t mean god exists.

    On the other hand, my argument is that if the word “wrong” means something, let’s say it means “to cause unnecessary harm”, for the sake of argument. Therefore, causing unnecessary harm is wrong. Whether we find any actual examples of this or not is irrelevant to the definition, just as the word “god” means something whether it exists or not. (There are of course examples of “wrong” to be found, but that is irrelevant).

    Causing unnecessary harm is something that does/can objectively exist, just as a circle or a square exists. It doesn’t matter what label you use for a square or circle, they still exist. (But, it wouldn’t matter if squares existed or not; even if there was not one to be found in nature, the definition of a square would still be real and objective, and if we ever came across one we would have a name for it.)

    You might call a square a circle, but we will know we’re talking about the same thing when see something with four sides with each angle 90 degrees. You might disagree with me that the object is actually a rectangle not a square, but we disagree on our interpretations of the object, not on the definition of squares!

    Similarly, if we see unnecessary wanton harm, there is a label we can attach to that. It is a literal objective thing. We call it “wrong”, aliens might call it something else or not even acknowledge unnecessary harm, but that doesn’t stop unnecessary harm existing and the word we use for that is “wrong”.

    As to what you said about wrongness varying between people, this is of course true. You might think abortion is wrong, I might think it’s not. But that’s because we would probably disagree on whether abortion is “that which causes unnecessary harm or suffering”. Neither of us disagrees over what ‘wrong’ means! Our disagreement is over what meets that criterion. This means that the definition of wrong, just like that of circles or squares, is an objective thing, and it is our interpretations of actions, not the definition itself, that is in dispute.

    (That doesn’t mean that MY definition of wrong given above is necessarily true, it’s a lose description that could be improved, but you get the point.)

  20. elicivilunrest Says:

    What I feel you are misunderstanding is that you think there is some moral absolute governing necessity. But necessity is necessarily subjective. I challenge you again to list one absolutely necessary (or unnecessary) harm. I doubt you’ll ever find any action we couldn’t argue over.

  21. evanescent Says:

    Ah but that isn’t the point though eli. All that demonstrates is that we might disagree on whether anything is ‘wrong’ based on the definition I’ve given, but that doesn’t make the definition or the premise wrong.

    In other words, you either disagree with me using the word “wrong” to refer to a certain type of action, in which case what word would you use??

    Or you think that no action can be described in this way, in other words you don’t think anything is ‘wrong’.

    Thought experiment to prove this exactly: you see somebody deliberately exploiting another person for selfish gain. What word would you use to describe this? Whether you think such an event *would ever happen* or not is irrelevant. The point is, in theory, it could (as it happens of course it does), so what word do you use? I use the word “wrong”.

    Maybe you disagree with my definition of “wrong”, which is fair enough. But then you’re not denying that a certain type of action exists that can be classified in this way, you’re just disputing what qualifies.

    Now, the fact that people disagree on some issues doesn’t invalidate the nature of objective morality; people can just be wrong!

    For example, a man rapes a woman. There was no higher purpose; there was no greater good involved. The man violates another person unnecessarily. This meets my definition of “wrong”. So, assuming you agree with the definition (if you don’t, come up with your own), you agree that this is wrong. There is no getting around it! That the rapist may or may not agree is irrelevant! (This is an example of absolute unnecessary harm that you asked for.)

    To reject this reasoning is to be a strict moral subjectivist, a position that is untenable and ultimately self-refuting.

  22. Lynet Says:

    I guess, then, the central question is what it means for something to be normative. What does it take for the designation ‘wrong’ to be binding on our behaviour? What, precisely, do we mean by the word ‘should’ (or the phrase ‘should not’)?

    To state that “You should not do X” simply means “It is wrong to do X” strikes me as missing the point. There is real meaning in the word ‘should’. It does not simply refer to a category of actions defined by some arbitrary rule, but rather to an idea of its very own that I think your development misses.

  23. evanescent Says:

    Hi Lynet

    What we “should” do wasn’t the focus of the article.

    That people can choose to act morally or not is a fact no matter what system of morality you subscribe to, so it’s not a problem for the system itself.

    For the sake of argument when discussing a moral system, we assume that people should act morally or not, and then decide how to define moral.

    There are of course very good arguments and explanations for “should”, but here I was just elucidating a secular moral position.

  24. ordinary girl Says:

    I found you!

    Well, at least I think I did if you’re the same evanescent that posts on Nita’s blog. I felt like you were a kindred spirit and I was disappointed I couldn’t find a link to your blog.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading. :)

    (And if this isn’t the same evanescent, apologies)

  25. tobe38 Says:

    @ Ordinary girl

    Kindred spirit?! I think you’ve got the wrong Evanescent ;)

  26. evanescent Says:

    Hi ordinary girl,

    Yes I did comment on nita’s blog here: http://nitawriter.wordpress.com/2007/09/15/why-people-are-religious/

    So if your comment was meant for me, many thanks! ;)

  27. Misanthropic Scott Says:

    This is truly an incredible post. I will likely post links to it when morals and religion come up for discussion. I have not heard this worded so eloquently before.

    You may also be interested in knowing that we live in a time when we are learning some incredible things about the human brain. Apparently, there are two centers in the brain that deal specifically with moral issues.

    The first makes a quick yes/no decision on morality of simple issues. The second performs more in depth processing for more complicated grayer issues.

    Of course, there are people with deficiencies in these areas, just as there are people with other mental deficiencies. Depending on how severe the deficiency is, one with such a deficiency in these areas might be called a sociopath.

    If anyone is interested in a really good book about the start of this new brain information revolution, so to speak, I would highly recommend The Naked Brain.

    http://www.bestwebbuys.com/9781400098095

    Searching for “brain moral trolley” (without the quotes) will likely turn up shorter articles on this subject alone. The book talks about many other areas of the brain as well. The word trolley is important because the study involves a number of questions about what to do with a trolley about to roll over people. Use scholar.google.com if you want the raw research in scholarly journals.

    Interestingly, they have even rephrased the question with crocodiles and diversion by canoe for hunter gatherer societies that have no idea what a trolley is, and found that people the world over, regardless of culture, produce very similar results for basic and mildly complex moral questions.

  28. evanescent Says:

    Hi Scott, thanks for the comments and the link. Much appreciated!

  29. Maronan Says:

    As a thought experiment, imagine you’re on another planet with different laws and values. Is rape wrong here?

    Well…

    If the pleasure/pain centers of the aliens’ brains were wired backwards compared to ours, such that they actually enjoyed being exploited/robbed/etc., then it wouldn’t be wrong to do those things to them.

    Sorry if I’m misinterpreting what you said, but…

    To say that wrong actions are right under certain conditions is to redefine the word.

    This seems obviously false. There are some actions which are clearly wrong under some circumstances and acceptable under others. (Such as killing— in cold blood, it’s one of the worst crimes; in self-defense, it’s acceptable.)

    Again, sorry if I’m misinterpreting you.

    One more thing to quibble with:

    It is clear therefore that, to borrow from Ebonmuse: anything that increases net human happiness is good, and anything that decreases net human happiness is bad.

    Why human happiness? Would rape on the alien planet be acceptable on the grounds that it doesn’t decrease human happiness if the victim isn’t human? Plenty of other species on this planet can feel pleasure/happiness and pain/unhappiness (or at least one of those two) and you did say that abuse of non-human animals is wrong…

  30. Maronan Says:

    Oops. Didn’t properly close an <em> tag. Sorry.

  31. evanescent Says:

    Well…

    If the pleasure/pain centers of the aliens’ brains were wired backwards compared to ours, such that they actually enjoyed being exploited/robbed/etc., then it wouldn’t be wrong to do those things to them.

    That isn’t just a hypothetical scenario; it’s safe to say such creatures would never successfully evolve, so we can discount this.

    Sorry if I’m misinterpreting what you said, but…

    Evanescent said: “To say that wrong actions are right under certain conditions is to redefine the word.”

    This seems obviously false. There are some actions which are clearly wrong under some circumstances and acceptable under others. (Such as killing— in cold blood, it’s one of the worst crimes; in self-defense, it’s acceptable.)

    Yes, but that’s just saying “some actions are right under certain circumstances”. Whereas what I’m saying, although some might consider it a tautology, is to say that “some actions under certain circumstances are always wrong.”

    For instance, killing someone in self-defence doesn’t violate anyone’s rights and you have no alternate. This is different to murdering someone because they didn’t hand over their car keys.

    Why human happiness? Would rape on the alien planet be acceptable on the grounds that it doesn’t decrease human happiness if the victim isn’t human? Plenty of other species on this planet can feel pleasure/happiness and pain/unhappiness (or at least one of those two) and you did say that abuse of non-human animals is wrong…

    Of course hurting animals or harming any sentient lifeform without need is wrong. But the ethic quoted is a principle for moral agents to use to act. Animals are not moral agents, so ethics are irrelevant to their actions.

    We don’t know of any aliens but if there are any sapient ones out there, this principle of universal utilitarianism would apply to them too.

  32. D Says:

    That isn’t just a hypothetical scenario; it’s safe to say such creatures would never successfully evolve, so we can discount this.

    Why wouldn’t they successfully evolve? Are you trying to say that if humans enjoyed being lied to, etc, that they wouldn’t successfully have evolved? Why wouldn’t they? It makes sense to me that it is possible for there to be a certain life form that enjoys being lied to and being robbed. Don’t discount the possible.

    Yes, but that’s just saying “some actions are right under certain circumstances”. Whereas what I’m saying, although some might consider it a tautology, is to say that “some actions under certain circumstances are always wrong.”

    For instance, killing someone in self-defence doesn’t violate anyone’s rights and you have no alternate. This is different to murdering someone because they didn’t hand over their car keys.

    Actually, killing someone in self-defense (purposely), isn’t acceptable, just accepted. There is a difference. It is still wrong to kill someone even if they try to kill you, but this type of killing is often condoned by humans. Now don’t get me wrong, if someone attacks you, it is just natural to just go ahead and attack back, but if you purposely kill that person, you have done wrong, because there is always an alternative. The alternative is knocking them out or something or other.

    Of course hurting animals or harming any sentient lifeform without need is wrong. But the ethic quoted is a principle for moral agents to use to act. Animals are not moral agents, so ethics are irrelevant to their actions.

    We don’t know of any aliens but if there are any sapient ones out there, this principle of universal utilitarianism would apply to them too.

    In the world of an atheist, morality doesn’t really exist, it is just a matter of your brain’s opinion. In the world of a Christian, morality is the law governing us all in the same way that the laws of science or the law of 2+2=4 does. I may be wrong about morality concerning Christianity (I know I am right on the atheist view), but it sure appears that way.

    What do you believe atheism is? A lack of belief in God/a god, or the belief that God/gods doesn’t/don’t exist? I don’t think that there is any significant difference, but for some reason, atheists seem to be arguing that they don’t believe that God doesn’t exist, it is just that they don’t believe in God. I, of course, think that atheism is both a belief and a lack of belief concerning the same God.

    By the way, I like the header, very nice. Sorry about not being here for a while, if I stayed any longer, I would have gone insane, I’m sure. As long as you don’t make me repeat myself (and I will make sure that you don’t), I will remain here, but if I have to repeat my argument constantly, I will leave and wait for you to read my argument in its entirety.

    Anyway, I hope you’ve had a nice break from me, I must be so aggravating to deal with :).

  33. evanescent Says:

    Why wouldn’t they successfully evolve? Are you trying to say that if humans enjoyed being lied to, etc, that they wouldn’t successfully have evolved?

    That’s exactly what I’m saying!

    Why wouldn’t they? It makes sense to me that it is possible for there to be a certain life form that enjoys being lied to and being robbed. Don’t discount the possible.

    But lying and stealing would not form an evolutionary stable system (ESS, as per Richard Dawkins). One person might enjoy stealing and lying, but even he cannot wish that society was that way, because then he would be lied to and stole from. A society of fairly honest fairly scrupulous people would be more successful and cooperative and therefore reproductive than a society of liars.

    This is precisely why evolution has selected for social traits in many animals. There are hundreds of examples of group altruism and cooperation from “lower” species, right “up” to humans.

    Actually, killing someone in self-defense (purposely), isn’t acceptable, just accepted. There is a difference. It is still wrong to kill someone even if they try to kill you, but this type of killing is often condoned by humans. Now don’t get me wrong, if someone attacks you, it is just natural to just go ahead and attack back, but if you purposely kill that person, you have done wrong, because there is always an alternative. The alternative is knocking them out or something or other.

    That’s all well and good D, but what if there isn’t an alternative? What if the person is drawing a gun to shoot you and you have a gun aimed on him first. What do you do?

    Go for the leg or the arm? You’ve been watching too many movies! In real life, gun users are trained to shoot for the body core. It is nearly always necessary to shoot to kill in that circumstance. If you shoot for a body limb, you might down the person, but all they have to do is point their arm towards you and pull their finger. This takes, how long…a fraction of a second? If you hesitate you are dead.

    In the world of an atheist, morality doesn’t really exist, it is just a matter of your brain’s opinion. In the world of a Christian, morality is the law governing us all in the same way that the laws of science or the law of 2+2=4 does. I may be wrong about morality concerning Christianity (I know I am right on the atheist view), but it sure appears that way.

    Atheist morality has been explained to you time and again, so I’m just going to ignore this. So you are not right. But that won’t stop you repeating this every time.

    What do you believe atheism is? A lack of belief in God/a god, or the belief that God/gods doesn’t/don’t exist? I don’t think that there is any significant difference, but for some reason, atheists seem to be arguing that they don’t believe that God doesn’t exist, it is just that they don’t believe in God. I, of course, think that atheism is both a belief and a lack of belief concerning the same God.

    Well thanks for your opinion, but you’re wrong. Which god? There are in theory, countless “gods”, because there is not one bit of evidence for any of them. Perhaps atheism is a positive position, perhaps a negative one.

    There are different types of atheism.

    By the way, I like the header, very nice. Sorry about not being here for a while, if I stayed any longer, I would have gone insane, I’m sure. As long as you don’t make me repeat myself (and I will make sure that you don’t), I will remain here, but if I have to repeat my argument constantly, I will leave and wait for you to read my argument in its entirety.

    The problem for you, D, is that you refuse to accept defeat. I’ve said this before and you know I mean no offence: your knowledge of the topics is simply not good enough for you to be able to debate at this level. And it’s not like we haven’t tried to help you out.

    You prove this perfectly when you say above that in the atheists’ world there is no morality, when, I’ve already written many articles about this (LIKE THIS ONE HERE!!), and it’s been explained to you time and again.

  34. D Says:

    But lying and stealing would not form an evolutionary stable system (ESS, as per Richard Dawkins). One person might enjoy stealing and lying, but even he cannot wish that society was that way, because then he would be lied to and stole from. A society of fairly honest fairly scrupulous people would be more successful and cooperative and therefore reproductive than a society of liars.

    This is precisely why evolution has selected for social traits in many animals. There are hundreds of examples of group altruism and cooperation from “lower” species, right “up” to humans.

    That nice and all, eva, but we weren’t talking about species that enjoyed lying and robbing. We were talking about aliens that enjoyed being lied to and robbed.

    That’s all well and good D, but what if there isn’t an alternative? What if the person is drawing a gun to shoot you and you have a gun aimed on him first. What do you do?

    Go for the leg or the arm? You’ve been watching too many movies! In real life, gun users are trained to shoot for the body core. It is nearly always necessary to shoot to kill in that circumstance. If you shoot for a body limb, you might down the person, but all they have to do is point their arm towards you and pull their finger. This takes, how long…a fraction of a second? If you hesitate you are dead.

    So if a trained gun user had a gun pointed at your heart or your head, you are dead. That much is obvious, but then again, what are the chances of you getting attacked by a trained marksman? Aside from that, since there would be no chance of doing anything whatsoever, killing or injuring the man is obviously out of the question.

    Haha! I watch too many movies? I propose that if you could do anything at all, try to injure the man, and you think that you can just kill the man, and then you tell me that I watch too many movies because you don’t think there is any chance of injuring him? And you think you could kill him? Now tell me, who’s watching too many movies? In real life, killing isn’t as easy as it appears to be on movies, and usually, injuring and/or immobilizing is easier.
    There is always an option other than killing. If you had a knife in hand, and the man wasn’t paying attention to you at the moment, you could stab him in the shoulder or some other place that could immobilize him, which is why killing him would be wrong. Although it would be accepted, it wouldn’t necessarily be acceptable. There is no possible situation that can likely occur that would force you to kill someone purposely without it being wrong. It’s just impossible.
    Name me one case in which it would be possible, then I’ll take that back, but what are the chances of a situation like that occurring? That would be one unlikely vicissitude.
    If you had a gun aimed at him already, shoot his hand while it is coming up, if you have that kind of skill. Or, to make things easier, the shoulder. Someplace that would injure him badly enough to immobilize him. It isn’t complicated. If you accidentally kill him, that’s fine, but if there is a choice involved (killing or not), you should simply injure him.

    Well thanks for your opinion, but you’re wrong. Which god? There are in theory, countless “gods”, because there is not one bit of evidence for any of them. Perhaps atheism is a positive position, perhaps a negative one.

    There are different types of atheism.

    No there isn’t. Name two that actually differ in regards to basic atheist beliefs.

    The problem for you, D, is that you refuse to accept defeat. I’ve said this before and you know I mean no offence: your knowledge of the topics is simply not good enough for you to be able to debate at this level. And it’s not like we haven’t tried to help you out.

    You prove this perfectly when you say above that in the atheists’ world there is no morality, when, I’ve already written many articles about this (LIKE THIS ONE HERE!!), and it’s been explained to you time and again.

    My knowledge doesn’t matter much. This is debate. It is logic that I use, and logic seems to work. If you give me a scenario, I can debate upon it. I don’t need much knowledge. I just need to be able to reason, and that’s what I do. You’ve helped, yes, you’ve set the scenarios for me, and I thank you for that, but I’m using logic and that should be enough for you. Of course, I have had to look up some things, but that’s why I am merely debating within my knowledge, which, as I said before, doesn’t need to be that great.

    I apologize, but I am simply unsatisfied with your explanation of morality. It just doesn’t make sense to me, your explanation. I’ve told you time and time again that morality is just a figment of our imagination unless
    1. God exists
    2. It is an actual thing, like time.
    If morality is an actual thing, where then, did it come from? The big bang? No, because morality can’t be made up of chemical explosions and whatnot. Neither can time, but atheists refuse to believe that for some, mysterious reason that makes no sense at all, it’s just a bunch of gibberish.

    Also, if morality exists, how would we know? What if the sense is false? Aren’t there ethical differences in opinion in regards to morality? I can explain why there are, but I’m asking you.
    Yes, I believe that morality can exist. No, it doesn’t make sense for an atheist to believe in morality.

  35. evanescent Says:

    D said:

    That nice and all, eva, but we weren’t talking about species that enjoyed lying and robbing. We were talking about aliens that enjoyed being lied to and robbed.

    It’s the same principle. I can’t see how you failed to miss that, but perhaps you felt you had to post some, any, kind of reply! If I were you, I wouldn’t have bothered!

    Haha! I watch too many movies? I propose that if you could do anything at all, try to injure the man, and you think that you can just kill the man, and then you tell me that I watch too many movies because you don’t think there is any chance of injuring him? And you think you could kill him? Now tell me, who’s watching too many movies? In real life, killing isn’t as easy as it appears to be on movies, and usually, injuring and/or immobilizing is easier.

    I didn’t say for a second that it was. But if a man is going to shoot you, you have about 1 second at most to decide what to do. Even if you shoot him in the arm of leg, unless he actually drops the gun, he still can shoot you in a fraction of a second.

    A law enforcement officer wouldn’t take that chance. If somebody aims a gun at you and you have the chance to shoot first, you shoot to kill.
    Of course it’s not easy, but if you don’t then you die. Simple as.

    There is always an option other than killing. If you had a knife in hand, and the man wasn’t paying attention to you at the moment, you could stab him in the shoulder or some other place that could immobilize him, which is why killing him would be wrong. Although it would be accepted, it wouldn’t necessarily be acceptable. There is no possible situation that can likely occur that would force you to kill someone purposely without it being wrong. It’s just impossible.

    Lol, but what if he WAS paying attention to you?? Unless you can move faster than the speed of sound D, I hope you never get mugged at gunpoint. What will you do, distract him with a bible and whip out a penknife and incapacitate him? Let’s hope the sonic boom of your speedy movement doesn’t deafen either of you.

    Name me one case in which it would be possible, then I’ll take that back, but what are the chances of a situation like that occurring? That would be one unlikely vicissitude.

    It doesn’t matter how unlikely you think it is. It only has to be possible in theory to give you a problem.

    If you had a gun aimed at him already, shoot his hand while it is coming up, if you have that kind of skill. Or, to make things easier, the shoulder. Someplace that would injure him badly enough to immobilize him. It isn’t complicated. If you accidentally kill him, that’s fine, but if there is a choice involved (killing or not), you should simply injure him.

    Well if you want to take that risk with your own life D, fine, but I wouldn’t. If I had to defend myself or my family for example I’d use terminal force. I’m not saying I’d gun him down Jack Bauer style (although the creators of 24 did model the character of Jack Bauer on me), but if I shoot him in the shoulder and he DOESN’T drop his weapon like in the movies, I’m a dead man.

    No there isn’t. Name two that actually differ in regards to basic atheist beliefs.

    Ok:

    1. I believe that God cannot exist.
    2. I believe that god might exist, but I see no reason to believe in him.

    There you go.

    My knowledge doesn’t matter much. This is debate. It is logic that I use, and logic seems to work. If you give me a scenario, I can debate upon it. I don’t need much knowledge. I just need to be able to reason, and that’s what I do. You’ve helped, yes, you’ve set the scenarios for me, and I thank you for that, but I’m using logic and that should be enough for you. Of course, I have had to look up some things, but that’s why I am merely debating within my knowledge, which, as I said before, doesn’t need to be that great.

    In a way, you’re right. Logic is important, and you should be able to defeat an argument with it, but there’s no substitute for having knowledge of the subject, and unfortunately you don’t. Now, I wouldn’t have a problem with this and nor would anyone else, if it wasn’t for you CLAIMING to know things that you simply don’t have a clue about: evolution, morality, atheism etc. You don’t have a clue, so don’t pretend that you do just because your personal beliefs tell you that these things MUST be wrong.

    I apologize, but I am simply unsatisfied with your explanation of morality. It just doesn’t make sense to me, your explanation. I’ve told you time and time again that morality is just a figment of our imagination unless
    1. God exists
    2. It is an actual thing, like time.

    You can say it as many times as you want, but it’s simply not true. That’s why I wrote this article.

    If morality is an actual thing, where then, did it come from? The big bang? No, because morality can’t be made up of chemical explosions and whatnot. Neither can time, but atheists refuse to believe that for some, mysterious reason that makes no sense at all, it’s just a bunch of gibberish.

    You’re attacking a strawman D. Read THIS ARTICLE. It explains why we have morality, and how morality is independent of belief.

    Also, if morality exists, how would we know? What if the sense is false? Aren’t there ethical differences in opinion in regards to morality? I can explain why there are, but I’m asking you.
    Yes, I believe that morality can exist. No, it doesn’t make sense for an atheist to believe in morality.

    If it doesn’t make sense to you that’s not my problem, but it makes sense for every atheist on the planet.

    I would answer your questions, but I don’t need to, because I wrote this very article to answer these issues!

    Personally, I find it very hard to believe you’re actually disputing atheistic morality. What you’re in effect saying is that you’d be immoral if you didn’t BELIEVE in god. Forget for a second whether god exists or not, you need BELIEF in him to be moral. How does that work?

    Anyway, read the article and your questions will be answered.

  36. D Says:

    It’s the same principle. I can’t see how you failed to miss that, but perhaps you felt you had to post some, any, kind of reply! If I were you, I wouldn’t have bothered!

    Why did you bother. Obviously, since you didn’t explain anything, you are aware that I just refuted you. It is not the same principle. It is very much different, actually, and this is because it is the opposite of what you tried to change it to.

    I didn’t say for a second that it was. But if a man is going to shoot you, you have about 1 second at most to decide what to do. Even if you shoot him in the arm of leg, unless he actually drops the gun, he still can shoot you in a fraction of a second.

    Well, if you automatically react and kill the man, then it would be on accident, now wouldn’t it? I believe that I pointed out that if you have a choice, which you might, you should shoot his arm that he is using to hold and/or shoot the gun. What are the chances that the man wouldn’t clutch his arm and scream and curse? If he does that, you’ll have stalled him, and he would not be able to shoot you within a second unless he used his other hand, which would take a few seconds, because he’d probably drop the gun. Have you ever seen a gun in action? It does much worse damage than what you’ll see on movies. Had you actually seen a gun in action (not on the movies), you’d know that.

    If you didn’t say that killing was the better option, why then did you spend the time to argue with me about this?! Were we not just discussing whether or not is was wrong to kill someone and by which scenario? I believe we were, so yes, you did imply that killing the person was better and that you couldn’t just injure them (and you were wrong).

    Lol, but what if he WAS paying attention to you?? Unless you can move faster than the speed of sound D, I hope you never get mugged at gunpoint. What will you do, distract him with a bible and whip out a penknife and incapacitate him? Let’s hope the sonic boom of your speedy movement doesn’t deafen either of you.

    lol. That is funny. If you are trying to make a fool out of me, you are doing poorly.
    What were we talking about? Whether or not I could escape death and how to do it? lol. No, I believe we were giving scenarios and discussing whether or not the circumstances demanded you kill someone.

    I can only imagine what you will do when someone mugs you at night. You’ll try to kill them, and fail horribly, because they’ll shoot you down before you can refute their arguments. Let’s hope you don’t automatically yell, “you can’t kill me,” and then give a lengthy explanation of why, but it’d be cut short.

    It doesn’t matter how unlikely you think it is. It only has to be possible in theory to give you a problem.

    What you are saying is that even if the chances of the situation demanding you kill someone are 0, it is still possible and worth consideration. That’s clearly what you are saying.

    Well if you want to take that risk with your own life D, fine, but I wouldn’t. If I had to defend myself or my family for example I’d use terminal force. I’m not saying I’d gun him down Jack Bauer style (although the creators of 24 did model the character of Jack Bauer on me), but if I shoot him in the shoulder and he DOESN’T drop his weapon like in the movies, I’m a dead man.

    What? They never drop their gun in the movies. They always hang onto it, slowly lift it and point it back at the one who shot them, because in the movies, bullets only leave bullet-sized holes that don’t harm the person much.

    We aren’t discussing whether something is risky, we’re discussing whether it is right or wrong. I’d probably use terminal force too, but if I actually have time to think, I’d be using force that would simply leave the attack inert, and then I’d do something to knock him/her unconscious if possible, because if I didn’t, I’d live with the trauma and guilt that I just killed someone.

    1. I believe that God cannot exist.

    That is atheism.

    2. I believe that god might exist, but I see no reason to believe in him.

    That is agnosticism.

    The two are different. An atheist is one who believes that there is no God. An agnostic isn’t totally closed to the idea of God, but still doesn’t follow God or really consider Him much.

    In a way, you’re right. Logic is important, and you should be able to defeat an argument with it, but there’s no substitute for having knowledge of the subject, and unfortunately you don’t. Now, I wouldn’t have a problem with this and nor would anyone else, if it wasn’t for you CLAIMING to know things that you simply don’t have a clue about: evolution, morality, atheism etc. You don’t have a clue, so don’t pretend that you do just because your personal beliefs tell you that these things MUST be wrong.

    If you are speaking of my religion, you are wrong. I have chosen my religion, because I believe it to be true, and not just because I am told so. I form my own opinions about life and morality and evolution, and they fit with Christianity. I haven’t read the Bible in its entirety, but I can still call myself a Christian, because I follow Christ. As I read the Bible, I find that it matches my views, which is good enough for me.

    You’re attacking a strawman D. Read THIS ARTICLE. It explains why we have morality, and how morality is independent of belief.

    Already read the article. It explained nothing. It failed to answer a single one of my questions. One being, if you agree that morality isn’t an actual thing like time, why then do you consider it bad to murder or rob someone? If morality doesn’t exist, we don’t need to follow, but since we follow our moral standards anyway, society is capable of surviving. Morality (this figment of our imagination) is essential for our survival, yes, but for an atheist, it doesn’t really exist. It’s just a figment of our imagination that keeps us from falling into total chaos.

    Personally, I find it very hard to believe you’re actually disputing atheistic morality. What you’re in effect saying is that you’d be immoral if you didn’t BELIEVE in god. Forget for a second whether god exists or not, you need BELIEF in him to be moral. How does that work?

    I said no such thing. I would be much less moral than I am now, but I wouldn’t abandon it completely, as it is essential to our survival.

    Anyway, read the article and your questions will be answered.

    Hahahaha! That’s still funny.

  37. evanescent Says:

    D said:

    “I believe that god might exist, but I see no reason to believe in him.”

    That is agnosticism.

    No it’s not. This is what I’m talking about: don’t pretend to know things that you don’t.

    Agnosticism is properly defined as the position that knowledge of god is not possible either way. You can be an agnostic atheist or agnostic theist.

    One being, if you agree that morality isn’t an actual thing like time, why then do you consider it bad to murder or rob someone?

    But I DO think that morality IS an actual thing.

    So, despite claiming to read the article, you obviously didn’t, or you skimmed through it and didn’t understand it.

    Nothing else you said was worth responding to. You just ended up making yourself look incredibly ignorant.

  38. D Says:

    No it’s not. This is what I’m talking about: don’t pretend to know things that you don’t.

    And you should speak.

    Agnosticism is properly defined as the position that knowledge of god is not possible either way. You can be an agnostic atheist or agnostic theist.

    Then I was right! Agnostics aren’t totally closed to the idea of God, and they aren’t atheist. Sure, you can be an atheistic agnostic, but you stated that agnosticism was a type of atheism, which it isn’t.

    But I DO think that morality IS an actual thing.

    Where, then, did it come from?!?

    So, despite claiming to read the article, you obviously didn’t, or you skimmed through it and didn’t understand it.

    And you say I make stuff up.

    Nothing else you said was worth responding to. You just ended up making yourself look incredibly ignorant.

    Awww…That’s exactly how I feel about you.:)

  39. evanescent Says:

    Then I was right! Agnostics aren’t totally closed to the idea of God, and they aren’t atheist. Sure, you can be an atheistic agnostic, but you stated that agnosticism was a type of atheism, which it isn’t.

    No, Derek. Nice attempt to twist words to make it look like you were right, but you were plainly wrong and you’re trying to cover it up:

    I’ll say it one more time: agnosticism is the belief that god(s) is knowable either way.

    Atheism is the lack of belief in god(s). One can be an agnostic and be a theist or an atheist.

    Therefore there are at least two types of atheism:

    1. I don’t know if god exists but I see no reason to believe in him.

    2. God definitely doesn’t exist.

    Both these positions are atheistic. The first is NOT agnosticism.

    Where, then, did it come from?!?

    Like I said earlier, morality necessarily arises from the interaction of thinking beings with the ability to control their actions and be responsible for them. It was selected for by evolution.

  40. Twelve Says:

    Agnosticism is properly defined as the position that knowledge of god is not possible either way. You can be an agnostic atheist or agnostic theist.

    I didn’t twist any words. This is what you said, and you could have meant two things had it not been for you saying that someone could be an agnostic theist.

    Agnosticism is still not a form of atheism. It is different. Similar, but different. Like Judaism compared to Christianity; it goes only so far, but atheism takes things a step further.

    1. I don’t know if god exists but I see no reason to believe in him.

    2. God definitely doesn’t exist.

    Both these positions are atheistic. The first is NOT agnosticism.

    Those aren’t two different types of atheism. I could say that there are two types of Christianity by saying this:

    1. God definitely exists

    2. I’m pretty sure God exists, but I still have an open mind

    That’s what you’re saying, but those are NOT two forms of Christianity.

    I don’t wish to twist your words, but is this what you are trying to say?

    1. I don’t think God exists but I have an open mind about it.

    2. God definitely doesn’t exist

    The above aren’t two forms of atheism, just kinds of people. Ones who are open-minded, and ones who are not. That isn’t enough to call it two different forms of atheism.

    Like I said earlier, morality necessarily arises from the interaction of thinking beings with the ability to control their actions and be responsible for them. It was selected for by evolution.

    Yes, because we have found thousands of these “missing links,” and we have obviously proved that evolution did happen to all species including humans. If evolution did happen the way you say it does, then that would mean that it doesn’t take thousands of years to adapt, rather, it takes a matter of seconds, or however long it takes for a cell to adapt to an environment it just landed on. No, even if there were thousands of cells on the earth that had to adapt to the earth in a matter of seconds because they couldn’t survive without adapting, they would all die, according to you, as you think that it takes thousands–millions of years for something to adapt.
    This is a brief explanation of why evolution could not have happened the way you say it did.

    Even if evolution had happened, morality could just be a defect, for all we know. Morality would simply be a reaction humans feel that would cause us to respond to the things that happen around us, but who is to say that it can be trusted? I thought atheists didn’t believe in trusting just “feelings.” I thought you would reject anyone who told you that they had a “feeling” that God does exist. “Feelings” do not govern reality, and you, of all people, should know this.
    So you’re calling it a survival instinct or something? You do know that dying in the place of someone (which is moral) because you love them doesn’t really help humans survive. It helps one humans survive, but kills the on who sacrificed him/herself, so it does nothing, and can possibly have a negative effect if the one who dies could have been more productive than the one who he/she saved.
    That’s just one example out of many.

  41. evanescent Says:

    D, or do you prefer “twelve” which I assume is your age. It’s not my job to educate you. I write many articles which explain evolution and morality. If you had genuine questions you would read my articles; there is no point me repeating myself in my entirety here, just so you can misunderstand me. If you were a genuine challenge, or honestly looking for answers or an intelligent discussion, I would debate with you. But you’re not, you’re just wasting my time.

    Your knowledge of evolution, just like your knowledge of science, atheism, philosophy etc, is virtually non-existent. You need to help yourself here before you can expect to debate properly.

  42. Twelve Says:

    D, or do you prefer “twelve” which I assume is your age.

    Whatever works for you, and you’d be wrong to assume that.

    It’s not my job to educate you. I write many articles which explain evolution and morality. If you had genuine questions you would read my articles; there is no point me repeating myself in my entirety here, just so you can misunderstand me. If you were a genuine challenge, or honestly looking for answers or an intelligent discussion, I would debate with you. But you’re not, you’re just wasting my time.

    I read your posts, but they explain nothing. That’s why I ask questions, so that they would be answered, but of course, you cannot tell me where singularity came from because you don’t know, and you’d rather be lazy and ignorant by leaving it at that. I mean no offense, but at least try to come up with a better idea than the big bang paradox.

    Your knowledge of evolution, just like your knowledge of science, atheism, philosophy etc, is virtually non-existent. You need to help yourself here before you can expect to debate properly.

    My knowledge of evolution isn’t that much, but I still can form my opinions on it, and I know plenty about science. I gathered my views of atheism from what I have collected while arguing with atheists. For instance, I learned the difference between agnosticism and atheism, and all the atheists I debate with, excluding you, agree that there is only one form of atheism, and agnosticism is different. No atheist argues with me, except you, about my views of atheism.

  43. evanescent Says:

    but of course, you cannot tell me where singularity came from because you don’t know

    That’s right, I don’t know.

    I don’t think anyone really does, and it’s highly likely that we’ll never know or figure it out.

    And if you think that proves anything about your “god” you are grossly mistaken.

    The difference is that scientists and atheists admit when we don’t know something.

    Most of what you say about your interpretation of god you just make up on the spot. Not only do you not know, you make claims about god being timeless and how his mind works etc that you cannot possibly know. So why do you pretend that you do?

    I don’t know what caused the big bang, but all evidence points to a spacetime singularity. I can’t say any more than that sorry. I’m not a cosmologist. This proves absolutely nothing about god.

    Any being complex enough to create a universe so complex as to demand a creator, would also demand a creator itself.

    My knowledge of evolution isn’t that much, but I still can form my opinions on it, and I know plenty about science.

    How can you form opinions on evolution if, by your own admission, you don’t know much about it?

    and all the atheists I debate with, excluding you, agree that there is only one form of atheism, and agnosticism is different. No atheist argues with me, except you, about my views of atheism.

    I’d be interested to know who these people are. Judging by the ignorance you show, I’d be surprised if anyone actually agrees with you.

    If you want to define an atheist as someone, who, for whatever reason, lacks belief in god, fine. In that case I’d probably agree there is one definition of atheist. But one might be an atheist for many reasons, and the position itself might be of passive non-belief, or active positive rejection. I think it’s good to differentiate between the two.

  44. Twelve Says:

    That’s right, I don’t know.

    I don’t think anyone really does, and it’s highly likely that we’ll never know or figure it out.

    Because you can’t. It is logically impossible.

    And if you think that proves anything about your “god” you are grossly mistaken.

    Did I say it did?

    Most of what you say about your interpretation of god you just make up on the spot. Not only do you not know, you make claims about god being timeless and how his mind works etc that you cannot possibly know. So why do you pretend that you do?

    No, I type it down on the spot, but here are the things that are all I need to know to explain God.

    1. God is eternal (as stated in the Bible)

    2. God is all-powerful

    3. God is all knowing

    4. God is perfect and has no flaw

    5. Humans are imperfect because of our own mistakes

    6. Satan rebelled and makes humans suffer because once humans sinned, he could make us suffer.

    7. The universe is subject to time, obviously

    That may not be all, but that’s basically all I need to know, because the rest of it is just logic.

    I don’t know what caused the big bang, but all evidence points to a spacetime singularity. I can’t say any more than that sorry. I’m not a cosmologist. This proves absolutely nothing about god.

    Ahh, but it proves something about your beliefs. It proves that you don’t want to know the answer. You refuse to hear any explanation whatsoever about the origin of all that exists. This much is proven from your explanation, the big bang. Because it is impossible to explain where singularity came from, you aren’t really trying to figure anything out, which means that you simply don’t want to hear any other ideas. That just goes to show how arrogant you are with this.

    Any being complex enough to create a universe so complex as to demand a creator, would also demand a creator itself.

    You really don’t read anything I write do you? Or maybe you just don’t think about anything I write.
    God is eternal. If He is eternal, He cannot have an origin, no matter how complex He is.

    How can you form opinions on evolution if, by your own admission, you don’t know much about it?

    It is very simple, actually. I use what I know and go from there.
    I don’t need to know much about it, because I already know that the basics of it aren’t even true, so I don’t believe it. There is this missing link, correct? If there was one, we’d have found it by now. Not to mention that another thing I found out was that apes and monkeys have genetic structures far, FAR different than ours. The only similarity is the opposable thumbs, which proves nothing.

    I’d be interested to know who these people are. Judging by the ignorance you show, I’d be surprised if anyone actually agrees with you.

    Yes, because you obviously have all the answers and are always correct in all that you say and do.
    Consider the possibility that you are wrong, because every atheist I know disagrees with you on several things. You show more ignorance than you think. Maybe instead of simply making articles here, you should go find another atheist somewhere and discuss your opinions with him/her. I’m sure that atheist will disagree with you a lot.

    If you want to define an atheist as someone, who, for whatever reason, lacks belief in god, fine. In that case I’d probably agree there is one definition of atheist. But one might be an atheist for many reasons, and the position itself might be of passive non-belief, or active positive rejection. I think it’s good to differentiate between the two.

    Atheism isn’t the lack of belief in God. It is the strong belief that God does not exist. Agnosticism is where someone lacks the belief, but isn’t totally closed to the idea of God.

  45. tobe38 Says:

    D,

    I’ve long since given up trying to get through to you, but there’s one point you’ve lured me back in on.

    Atheism isn’t the lack of belief in God. It is the strong belief that God does not exist. Agnosticism is where someone lacks the belief, but isn’t totally closed to the idea of God.

    You keep saying this, and you simply, utterly wrong.

    Definition of atheism from Wiktionary:

    atheism (plural atheisms)

    1. Absence of belief in the existence of God or gods.
    2. Disbelief in the existence of God or gods.

    Definition of agnostiicism from Wiktionary:

    agnosticism (uncountable)

    1. the view that absolute truth or ultimate certainty is unattainable, especially regarding knowledge not based on experience or perceivable phenomena.
    2. the view that the existence of God or of all deities is unknown, unknowable, unproven, or unprovable.
    3. doubt, uncertainty, or skepticism regarding the existence of God or of all deities.

    Please provide either a link to an online dictionary supporting your alleged definitions, or a link to another atheist blog/website that supports your definitions, or prefereable both.

    Consider the possibility that you are wrong, because every atheist I know disagrees with you on several things. You show more ignorance than you think. Maybe instead of simply making articles here, you should go find another atheist somewhere and discuss your opinions with him/her. I’m sure that atheist will disagree with you a lot.

    You know me, D, so not every atheist you know disagrees with Evanescent. Count me as one who backs him up to the hilt, and before you tell me to go and talk to other atheists too, we both know a lot of atheists online and they would all back us up. Please introduce us to the atheists who agree with you.

  46. evanescent Says:

    Ahh, but it proves something about your beliefs. It proves that you don’t want to know the answer. You refuse to hear any explanation whatsoever about the origin of all that exists.

    No I’m actually more than welcome to listen to opinions of where the universe came from. But in this respect I will listen to scientists.

    Religion has nothing worthwhile to say on anything, so why should I give it the huge benefit of the doubt and assume it has something to say about the origin of the universe?

    But even if I did, why would a book written 2000+ years ago by ancient tribal jews give us information about the start of the universe?? The book of genesis can’t even get the appearance of man right.

    This much is proven from your explanation, the big bang. Because it is impossible to explain where singularity came from, you aren’t really trying to figure anything out, which means that you simply don’t want to hear any other ideas. That just goes to show how arrogant you are with this.

    Who says it’s impossible. You? If you want to give up and commit intellectual suicide, fine. Some of us want to look for our answers and discover.

    God is eternal. If He is eternal, He cannot have an origin, no matter how complex He is.

    You’re just defining god into existence. If you can do that, I can do this:

    The singularity just happened.

    There. I can’t explain it, but then you can’t explain god. You can just PRETEND to.

    Since we know the big bang or something similar did happen, we can both accept this. God is unnecessary and Occam’s razor gets rid of him.

    I don’t need to know much about it, because I already know that the basics of it aren’t even true, so I don’t believe it.

    Ok then D: arrange to meet up with Richard Dawkins and then you can show him the error of his ways. And you call me arrogant?

    There is this missing link, correct? If there was one, we’d have found it by now.

    First of all, fossilisation is rare. Second, what do you mean missing link?? Every non-existent lifeform in the past can be considered an intermediate between one creature and another! Third, we have discovered fossils of many primitive creatures that we early humans.

    Your arrogance is complete: you don’t have a clue about evolution, ask questions that anyone who knew the first thing about it wouldn’t ask, and then you say you know all you need to know and dismiss it!

    Not to mention that another thing I found out was that apes and monkeys have genetic structures far, FAR different than ours. The only similarity is the opposable thumbs, which proves nothing.

    HAHA. Actually Twelve (year old), humans are more genetically similar to chimpanzees than chimpanzees are to other apes! Humans and chimps share about 98% of their DNA. With other apes like gorillas it’s more like 96% for both.

    If you’re going to keep spouting this rubbish I just won’t argue with you. You denying evolution is like denying gravity! It’s really that hilarious.

    Consider the possibility that you are wrong, because every atheist I know disagrees with you on several things. You show more ignorance than you think. Maybe instead of simply making articles here, you should go find another atheist somewhere and discuss your opinions with him/her. I’m sure that atheist will disagree with you a lot.

    Instead of just waffling, why don’t you provide a quote of an atheist who disagrees with my understanding of atheism and agnosticism.

    Tobe’s already replied to you on this and I think he summed it up quick nicely.

  47. Spanish Inquisitor Says:

    @Tobe

    You know me, D, so not every atheist you know disagrees with Evanescent. Count me as one who backs him up to the hilt, and before you tell me to go and talk to other atheists too, we both know a lot of atheists online and they would all back us up.

    I’m one. I have yet to read anything Derek (Twelve) says that is supportable. He keeps repeating himself over and over in a condescending manner, implicitly stating that we simply don’t understand, and that if he says it enough, it will eventually get through to us.

    I’m reminded of my children, when they were younger, who would keep asking over and over for something, hoping that if they asked enough, we’d change our mind. If we did, it was usually out of frustration, and not because we agreed with them.

    Derek exhibits all the signs of adult self-delusion. It’s really sort of pathetic.

  48. Twelve Says:

    I’ve long since given up trying to get through to you,

    Hm…good idea, I’ll never change my mind.

    You keep saying this, and you simply, utterly wrong.

    Definition of atheism from Wiktionary:

    That’s just what I said, what’s the problem?

    Definition of agnostiicism from Wiktionary:

    Different than what I said, but it changes nothing, really.

    Please provide either a link to an online dictionary supporting your alleged definitions, or a link to another atheist blog/website that supports your definitions, or prefereable both.

    I must be old fashioned. I use the book-type dictionary, so sorry, can’t give you a link.

    You know me, D, so not every atheist you know disagrees with Evanescent.

    You’re right, I forgot about you, my apologies.

    Please introduce us to the atheists who agree with you.

    I wouldn’t know how.

  49. Twelve Says:

    No I’m actually more than welcome to listen to opinions of where the universe came from.

    I find that hard to swallow.

    Religion has nothing worthwhile to say on anything, so why should I give it the huge benefit of the doubt and assume it has something to say about the origin of the universe?

    So you don’t want to hear any other answers besides the “scientific” ones? I believe science, but I don’t believe modern scientists as much. Just because a scientist said it, doesn’t mean that it is true or makes any more sense. But at least I give scientists the benefit of the doubt and actually listen, even though I doubt that they have anything worth-while to say.

    But even if I did, why would a book written 2000+ years ago by ancient tribal jews give us information about the start of the universe?? The book of genesis can’t even get the appearance of man right.

    Because thus far, it has been correct, makes sense, and even fits in with sciences we know today that they didn’t back then. It even stated all of that which was created in order that matches that of what scientists believe today.

    Genesis is false just because it said that humans didn’t start off as monkeys? What if humans really didn’t start as monkeys? How crazy would it be if we really didn’t find the “missing link” by now? Oh wait, we didn’t.

    Who says it’s impossible. You? If you want to give up and commit intellectual suicide, fine. Some of us want to look for our answers and discover.

    What?!?! You aren’t looking for answers! You are rejecting all answers.

    I am not the only one to say that things don’t spontaneously generate. Apparently, that is intellectual suicide. Singularity cannot just appear from nowhere.

    You’re just defining god into existence. If you can do that, I can do this:

    Sure I am. This book was written 2000+ years ago, and at that time, they didn’t know what we know about science. I use that book to describe God. You can say that I am just making it up as I go, but you would be wrong, because you cannot manipulate reality with words.

    There. I can’t explain it, but then you can’t explain god. You can just PRETEND to.

    Since we know the big bang or something similar did happen, we can both accept this. God is unnecessary and Occam’s razor gets rid of him.

    Sure eva, giving the only realistic explanation is just pretending to explain things.

    God is not unnecessary. Tell me why He is, and I might change my mind, unless you are wrong.

    Ok then D: arrange to meet up with Richard Dawkins and then you can show him the error of his ways. And you call me arrogant?

    Yeah, because famous people are always right.
    How was my statement arrogant? I used this thing called logic, and a little science, and guess what? As it turns out, evolution really didn’t happen!

    Second, what do you mean missing link?? Every non-existent lifeform in the past can be considered an intermediate between one creature and another! Third, we have discovered fossils of many primitive creatures that we early humans.

    1. Then you haven’t proven anything.

    2. What? “that we early humans”? What does that mean? If it means what I think it does, give me a link.

    Your arrogance is complete: you don’t have a clue about evolution, ask questions that anyone who knew the first thing about it wouldn’t ask, and then you say you know all you need to know and dismiss it!

    Well then, you certainly aren’t doing a good job of answering these questions.

    Actually Twelve (year old)

    What are you? About 10, I suppose?

    humans are more genetically similar to chimpanzees than chimpanzees are to other apes! Humans and chimps share about 98% of their DNA. With other apes like gorillas it’s more like 96% for both.

    Sure they are. When do you say humans evolved from stupid monkeys to “intelligent” humans? I would like to hear your answer to that, because about 3 years ago, around where I lived, fossilized footprints, the same age, were found. Those footprints were that of a human, and that of a tyrannosaurus. Both of them showed that both the human and the tyrannosaurus were running.

    If you’re going to keep spouting this rubbish I just won’t argue with you. You denying evolution is like denying gravity!

    No it isn’t. Gravity can actually be proven. We still haven’t proved that humans evolved.

    Instead of just waffling, why don’t you provide a quote of an atheist who disagrees with my understanding of atheism and agnosticism.

    Because you would simply say that I made it up.

  50. evanescent Says:

    D said:

    Hm…good idea, I’ll never change my mind.

    Fine. In that case there’s no point arguing with you.

  51. Spanish Inquisitor Says:

    Sure they are. When do you say humans evolved from stupid monkeys to “intelligent” humans?

    Humans didn’t evolve from monkeys. They directly evolved from a pre-homo-sapien ancestor. Go read up on the subject before you ask “stupid” questions.

    No it isn’t. Gravity can actually be proven. We still haven’t proved that humans evolved.

    Actually, no, gravity has yet to be “proven” in the sense that we know what it is, and how it works.

    As for evolution, we are probably more sure of evolution than we are of gravity.

  52. Twelve Says:

    Fine. In that case there’s no point arguing with you.

    Why not? All I was saying was that I was right, and I know that 100%. I’ve thought everything through, at this point.

    Humans didn’t evolve from monkeys.

    Exactly.

    They directly evolved from a pre-homo-sapien ancestor

    If that were true, we would have evidence, now wouldn’t we?

    Actually, no, gravity has yet to be “proven” in the sense that we know what it is, and how it works.

    I know. I was referring to gravity as the force that pulls us to the earth, and I went no further.

    As for evolution, we are probably more sure of evolution than we are of gravity.

    Then humans are less intelligent than I thought.

    __________________________________
    @ all

    You keep telling me to question my beliefs as if I don’t, and I do, often. Actually, I question everything, including *gasp* science.
    For instance, global warming has nothing to do with humans, plate techtonics is nothing but a theory (in the grand scheme of it. Sure, the plates move some, but Pangea never existed.), and gravity might not work the way scientists say it does, there’s just no way of knowing for certain. On top of all that, I questioned the big bang and evolution and formed my opinions on that, though I don’t care much for evolution, because all of the sane people I know don’t believe in it, and they aren’t all Christian, not to mention that I just moved, and that fact has not changed; it tells a person something. I don’t want to get into an evolution argument with you; go spout that nonsense at someone else.

  53. evanescent Says:

    LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!!! STEP RIGHT UP, STEP RIGHT UP!

    SEE THE TRAVELLING D-TWELVE SHOW, featuring such hilarious acts as:

    “Humans didn’t evolve”

    and

    “I know more about the Big Bang than Stephen Hawking!”

    and who can forget the timeless (or “outside of time?!”) classic:

    “Dinosaurs lived at the same time as humans”

    COMING SOON TO A TRAVELLING CIRCUS NEAR YOU:

    “Heliocentrism is a lie”

    and

    “God cured my dog of rabies”

    TICKETS ARE FREE, BUT WE RECOMMEND YOU BRING YOU OWN FOLEY CATHETER INCASE YOU PISS YOURSELF LAUGHING.

  54. Spanish Inquisitor Says:

    {snort}

    Did you see that he now agrees that god can create a rock so big he can’t lift it? Check his site.

    And pass the catheter.

  55. Darren Says:

    I did check his site. We really are debating with a child – he went to the “CIY Summer Youth Conference” apparently.

    @ D, Derek, Twelve, whatever: it’s difficult to say this without causing offence, but maybe it will help you to grow up a bit. Your arguments are weak, your thoughts are incoherent, your beliefs are illogical, rationality seems a foreign concept to you, and you are a poor debater. You seem to be proud to be uneducated, which I find bizarre. You assert that you “just know” things that nobody knows, which highlights how much of a fool you really are.

    I’d argue with you on your own site (it would make for good sport), but I don’t think I can trust you not to spam my inbox with yet more incoherent ramblings, or worse.

    @Evanescent, apologies if I overstepped the bounds of decency with this criticism. Feel free to delete this post if so.

  56. Twelve Says:

    LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!!! STEP RIGHT UP, STEP RIGHT UP!

    SEE THE TRAVELLING D-TWELVE SHOW, featuring such hilarious acts as:

    “Humans didn’t evolve”

    and

    “I know more about the Big Bang than Stephen Hawking!”

    and who can forget the timeless (or “outside of time?!”) classic:

    “Dinosaurs lived at the same time as humans”

    COMING SOON TO A TRAVELLING CIRCUS NEAR YOU:

    “Heliocentrism is a lie”

    and

    “God cured my dog of rabies”

    TICKETS ARE FREE, BUT WE RECOMMEND YOU BRING YOU OWN FOLEY CATHETER INCASE YOU P— YOURSELF LAUGHING.

    Odd. You say I am 12, yet you act even younger than your own accusation. Do you honestly expect to win an argument with that? Some intelligence you have there.

    ____________________________________
    span,

    Did you see that he now agrees that god can create a rock so big he can’t lift it? Check his site.

    Yes, and I explained why. If you have an objection, feel free to tell me, because I don’t see how you could object. At least give me some credit for explain that much.

    _____________________________________
    tobe,

    I did check his site. We really are debating with a child – he went to the “CIY Summer Youth Conference” apparently.

    At least one person here does their homework. Yes, I did go to that CIY, and it was pretty good, but no, I am not 12, regardless of the name.

    but maybe it will help you to grow up a bit.

    Maybe you should be helping eva or span with that.

    Your arguments are weak, your thoughts are incoherent, your beliefs are illogical, rationality seems a foreign concept to you, and you are a poor debater.

    I agree that my arguments are weak and I don’t really debate all that well, but I don’t agree with the rest of that. Elucidate.

    I would listen to you if you would provide some decent evidence of those claims, because if those claims are true, there should be plenty of evidence.

    You assert that you “just know” things that nobody knows, which highlights how much of a fool you really are.

    Actually, I never said that I “just know” things; I even told you where and how I form my opinions. I form my own opinions instead of letting Hawking form them for me, like eva does. Instead of just following another person’s opinion, I follow my own path by making my own opinion, and my opinions agree with Christianity.

    I’d argue with you on your own site (it would make for good sport), but I don’t think I can trust you not to spam my inbox with yet more incoherent ramblings, or worse.

    I would simply argue with you on my own site, as I have done.
    _____________________________________

    I believe that my beliefs are written down on my blog, and it would be better for you to look at them. Why should I make a long comment when I can just point to my blog and say, “read this”?

  57. Twelve Says:

    I apologize again. I mistakenly called Darren by tobe’s name. My apologies.

  58. Darren Says:

    Twelve,

    Just to take this thread as an example, you’ve said:

    “(I know I am right on the atheist view)”

    “I don’t need to know much about it, because I already know that the basics of it aren’t even true, so I don’t believe it.”

    “All I was saying was that I was right, and I know that 100%. I’ve thought everything through, at this point.”

    These illustrate your false sense of certainty.

    I’d also challenge you on this statement:

    “Instead of just following another person’s opinion, I follow my own path by making my own opinion, and my opinions agree with Christianity.”

    Have your opinions ever disagreed with Christianity? Do you discard those that do? Or do you refer to the book first, then decide if you’re allowed to have that opinion? If so, then your statement is also false: your opinions are not your own, but those of 2000-year-old goat herders.

    Also:

    “I agree that my arguments are weak and I don’t really debate all that well, but I don’t agree with the rest of that. Elucidate.”

    For example, on your own site you say that God can make a rock he can’t lift. That makes him less than all-powerful, which you also claim. That is logically incoherent. I could go on if you like…?

  59. Twelve Says:

    Just to take this thread as an example, you’ve said:

    “(I know I am right on the atheist view)”

    “I don’t need to know much about it, because I already know that the basics of it aren’t even true, so I don’t believe it.”

    “All I was saying was that I was right, and I know that 100%. I’ve thought everything through, at this point.”

    These illustrate your false sense of certainty.

    Not really, sure, on their own they might, that’s called taking things out of context, but I also have my reasons for being certain. Like in the last quote, I said that I have thought everything through at this point, and I pretty much have, at least all that I need to think through.

    >Have your opinions ever disagreed with Christianity? Do you discard those that do? Or do you refer to the book first, then decide if you’re allowed to have that opinion?

    No.

    For example, on your own site you say that God can make a rock he can’t lift. That makes him less than all-powerful, which you also claim. That is logically incoherent. I could go on if you like…?

    Incoherent? Is it not possible for a king to step down from his throne? Of course, and if God made a rock so big that He cannot lift it, then He would be stepping down from his throne and giving His kingdom to a rock. Now, how is that logically incoherent?

  60. Darren Says:

    I’ll try to keep it simple. We’re not talking about kings and kingdoms, we’re talking about an allegedly omnipotent creator of the universe!

    Your analogy, although poor, suggests that an omnipotent being can surrender its omnipotence, but that means it is not truly omnipotent as there is something it cannot do – regain its power – or if it can regain its power, then it hasn’t created a rock it cannot lift, as by definition an omnipotent being can do anything, include lift heavy rocks. You can’t have it both ways, which is what logically incoherent means.

    On the previous answer (“no”) – I asked you three questions that cannot have the same answer. Which one were you answering?

    Finally, do you have any idea how incredibly arrogant you sound when you say things like “I have thought everything through at this point, and I pretty much have, at least all that I need to think through”? Arrogant, or very closed minded. Either way, you are ill-equipped to debate.

  61. Twelve Says:

    but that means it is not truly omnipotent as there is something it cannot do – regain its power – or if it can regain its power, then it hasn’t created a rock it cannot lift, as by definition an omnipotent being can do anything, include lift heavy rocks.

    This is where your mistake lies. I agree that if a king (God) surrenders his power, that power is no longer his, and he no longer is omnipotent.
    Take a look at the words, no longer. At the beginning, He was omnipotent, after he surrenders his power, he is no longer omnipotent, but does that mean that he was never omnipotent? Of course not. Regardless, it is entirely possible

    Finally, do you have any idea how incredibly arrogant you sound when you say things like “I have thought everything through at this point, and I pretty much have, at least all that I need to think through”? Arrogant, or very closed minded.

    Arrogant, yeah, pretty much, but not entirely, in my opinion. Regardless, I have thought about everything you’ve (referring to all of you) brought up, and I’ve made up my mind, which basically means that I haven’t changed in my opinions concerning Christianity and the existence of an omnipotent being.

    __________
    I thought my analogy was as close as you could get to reality.

  62. evanescent Says:

    Take a look at the words, no longer. At the beginning, He was omnipotent, after he surrenders his power, he is no longer omnipotent, but does that mean that he was never omnipotent? Of course not. Regardless, it is entirely possible

    If he surrenders his power, how does he get it back again??

    You’re talking rubbish and making stuff up off the top of your head. You’re pretending to know things that you couldn’t possibly know. We can see through you.

    and I’ve made up my mind, which basically means that I haven’t changed in my opinions concerning Christianity and the existence of an omnipotent being.

    That’s fine. And kids believe in Santa and some grown ups believe in Allah and Vishnu. You can believe whatever you want but that doesn’t make it anything more than a figment of your imagination.

  63. Twelve Says:

    If he surrenders his power, how does he get it back again??

    Unless a rock can surrender its power back to Him, He won’t be able to get it back, because He made Himself no longer the Omnipotentialis. That would mean that He isn’t all-powerful anymore right? Exactly, but before He gave up His power, He was all-powerful, and giving up his power later doesn’t change that. And has God given up His power? No, so kindly leave it at that, because there is no more to say.

    You’re talking rubbish and making stuff up off the top of your head. You’re pretending to know things that you couldn’t possibly know. We can see through you.

    I would have normally laughed at that if you hadn’t been so aggravating with the stupid questions about God making too big a rock, but instead, I see right through your arguments and find your ignorance/down-right refusal to give up (I can’t decide which it is, but that’ll change once I’ve refuted your arguments).
    They say that giving up is never the right thing to do. In debate, that’s false. You constantly complain about my debate methods (which aren’t that great in my opinion either. They are unorthodox, at best), yet yours are no better when you refuse to admit defeat. Before you say anything back, I honestly believe you are wrong, and that I am right (I don’t intend to sound arrogant with that statement), because either I’m more tired than I thought (and have been for the past year), or you haven’t debated well enough. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you’re just ignorant.

    And kids believe in Santa and some grown ups believe in Allah and Vishnu. You can believe whatever you want but that doesn’t make it anything more than a figment of your imagination.

    Ah, I see now. So what you’re telling me is that believing in something makes it a figment of my imagination. What if I have evidence that I am right? What if I honestly believe that I am right because of good, solid evidence?

    Although you may say that I go by blind faith, you are wrong. Contrary to popular belief, Christians have extremely good support for their beliefs, and question these beliefs more than atheists question their own beliefs/dis-beliefs (whatever you call it). I doubt that you’ve ever considered the fact that you may be wrong.

    Of course, you can believe that an Omnipotentialis doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t make that belief any more true or any less false.

    We both have good arguments to back up our beliefs. We both think the other is wrong to believe they are right. Either one of us is ignorant/stubborn/poor at explaining our point (I’m sure there are more options, none of them any more comforting.).

    Here’s my opinion. Do you have any idea how ridiculous you sound with your arguments? You could make things a lot easier by skipping the long “sermon,” and telling me what you believe and why, without going through every little, unimportant detail and insult, but you don’t, and it makes you sound all the more ridiculous. I’m here to prove a point. You’re here to heat up arguments and insult Christians (or just any religion besides your own in general).

    ___________________________

    When you place Christianity in the same category as Santa Clause, you show your own ignorance. Have you ever stopped your insulting and flat out refusals to wonder why there are Christians but no Santa-followers (besides small children)? Maybe *gasp* there’s actually something to Christianity. Ever consider the possibility? It doesn’t appear that you do, because you have weak arguments against it. You may be able to read it and look at it from a closed mind’s point of view, but try reading it from an open mind’s point of view. I’m sure you’ll find that there’s something to it.

    And now that I’m done ranting, please tell me why Christianity is false in Eva-world.

  64. Twelve Says:

    If you’ll excuse me for a moment, I will need a bit of time to collect my arguments from all over this site and put them together and question you with each argument, one by one. This way, you don’t skip anything.

  65. evanescent Says:

    I will leave the floor open to other readers to annihilate Twelve.

    I have many articles of my own to get through and lots of reading, so to debate with someone I’ve already refuted and repeat myself all over again, to someone who self-admittedly said:

    “Hm…good idea, I’ll never change my mind.”

    …would just be a waste of time.

  66. Twelve Says:

    I have many articles of my own to get through and lots of reading, so to debate with someone I’ve already refuted and repeat myself all over again, to someone who self-admittedly said:

    “Hm…good idea, I’ll never change my mind.”

    …would just be a waste of time.

    Yes, and I’m the arrogant one.

    Either you’ve misunderstood my sarcasm, or you took me out of context. I did not say,

    “Hm…good idea, I’ll never change my mind.”

    What I did, however say was:

    “Nice ideas….but no, that’s false [insert long-winded explanation here]. I’ll never change my mind.”

    Though I thought it was pretty funny when you said you refuted me. All the same, it’s pretty sad.

    Go ahead and write your articles, eva. I’ve had writer’s block, and can’t think of anything to write, so maybe refuting you again will spark inspiration. I need something I haven’t already written about, but there are plenty of options here; the only problem is finding a topic that I can turn into a large-enough post.
    I would apologize for talking your ears off, but everyone knows I’ll just do it again in my next comment.
    I’ll just go look for our delightful little arguments and post them here, pointing out each time I refuted you, and each time you repeated yourself, eva.

  67. Moral Objectivist Says:

    I am an atheist. There is such thing as secular morality and the source is very important. We can’t derive morals from our emotions. That is silly and irrational. There are two axioms by which practically all perceivably obvious secular morals derive: reality is real and self exists. These two very simple self evident metaphysical axioms have far reaching consequences. If you own yourself as the axiom states, then naturally you retain the inherent right to what your property, you, produces. If you own yourself then naturally you retain the right to not be aggressed against. If your body is yours then no person has the right to aggress against it. If your body is yours then what that body produces is also yours. It is called the nonaggression principle and it is the foundation for almost all secular ideas of morality and it exists as the sole justification for capitalism.

  68. Jebus Says:

    i have read through the petty squabbles and childish incoherencies you utter. D or twelve as he was later named has civily found flaws and asked questions concerning your veiws\opinions\explanations of and on morality. although you outright refused to answer him and simply slandered him and found slight faults in what he has said, you still haven’t dealt with a simple problem. this outright refusal and childish talkback eventually dissolved all intellectual debate. the question was “if god does not exist what is morality?” asking in simpler terms: if there is no god to judge, if there is no final order to life, if everything good or bad that you do is not ever judged at any point and there are no eternal consequences for your actions, how can morality exist? how can we decide what is right or wrong if we are allowed to be reduced to our base instincts?. read plato’s republic, Plato discusses the perfect city and in effect the origins of morality. he also discusses the ideal leader, the philosopher who as far as i can see is not dissimilar to the atheist. an objective observer who bases opinions and morals on objective and logical veiws of the world. this however is not the perfect person or the common person, to feel is to live and to base morals on ones emotions and predispositions is natural. if evolution has changed us thus then you disagree not with your fellow man but with the nessesary adaptions the world has built into us. that being said i have enjoyed your theological debate. regardless of how little you understand about the debating process

  69. evanescent Says:

    Jebus, it is you who clearly doesn’t understand the debating process. The debating process works like this:

    Me: Original Article

    12: Challenge

    Me: Answer, and counter challenge

    12: Answer counter challenge, new challenge

    It is not:

    Me: Original Article

    12: Ignorant complaint

    Me: Answer, and counter challenge

    12: Evasion, and more ignorant questions.

    The latter is what Twelve was engaging in.

    By the way Jebus: note the key on your keyboard above the Shift key and below the Tab key; you might find it useful from time to time.

    As for Plato – irrelevant. I accept the philosophy of a far better philosopher: Ayn Rand. Rand identifies morality as a code of values to guide actions, and identifies man as a rational man who can identify objective rational values that are beneficial to life. She discovered a moral system that is objective and derived from reality – not from man’s often irrational reactions to reality (emotion) or from the authority of an imaginary skybully (god).

    How far you miss the mark with “morality” is displayed by even asking the question “if there is no god what is morality?” This is a loaded question and a false dichotomy. It steals the concept of morality from its antecedents of reason, choice, and value, into a scenario that violates morality, vis: obeying the commandments of your invisible friend to avoid being punished.


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